Christopher A. Hunter

Assistant Professor of English
B.A., Harvard University, 2002; M.A., University of Pennsylvania, 2004; Ph.D., 2009. Caltech, 2010-18.


Literature and History; Visual Culture


Comparative Literature and Literary Theory; Eighteenth-Century Literature; Early American History and Literature; Nineteenth-Century Literature and Autobiography; Benjamin Franklin; History of Material Texts


Christopher Hunter explores the history of autobiography as a literary genre and a material form. He is working on a book entitled A New and More Perfect Edition: Reading, Editing, and Publishing Autobiography in America, 1787–1850, which aims to rewrite the understanding of how autobiography came to be recognized as a distinct—and distinctly American—genre. Before the Civil War, the term "autobiography" referred to novels, miscellanies, and works of political economy as well as memoirs. In the book, Hunter reassembles this archive, beginning with the posthumous publication and reception of Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography and bringing together writers like Walter Scott, Martha Griffith Browne, James Fenimore Cooper, and the people responsible for publishing them.

In another project, Hunter is co-editing Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography: A Facsimile of the Holograph Manuscript. Franklin's Autobiography is the most published, read, and studied memoir of all time, having never been out of print and having been translated into 28 other languages. But every version has consisted of compilations or excerpts put together by editors, almost none of whom have ever had access to the original manuscript written in Franklin's own handwriting. His manuscript has been recently digitized, and Hunter and other scholars are proposing to publish a facsimile of the autobiography, accompanied by illustrated essays that provide context to readers.  

Hunter is a recipient of the William Reese Fellowship from The Huntington (2013), the American Antiquarian Society's Reese Fellowship (2012), a fellowship in the history of material texts from the University of Pennsylvania (2008–2009), and the Penn Humanities Forum Graduate Research Assistantship (2008–2009).

Selected Publications 

Book Manuscript (in progress)

A New and More Perfect Edition: Reading, Editing, and Publishing Autobiography in America, 1787-1850.

Book Proposal (Under Review, Henry E. Huntington Library Press)

Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography: A Facsimile of the Holograph Manuscript. James N. Green, Christopher Hunter, Rosalind Remer, Peter Stallybrass, and Page Talbott, eds.

Articles in Peer Reviewed Journals

"Anonymity, Textualism, and the First Amendment" (under revision for submission to Law and Literature).

"The Death of Cato: Thomas Paine, William Smith, and the Drama of Revolutionary Authorship" (revising for submission to Early American Studies).

"Franklin Today" Early American Literature 48.2 (Summer 2013): 473-491.

"From Print to Print: the First Complete Copy of Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography" Papers of the Bibliographical  Society of America  101.4 (December 2007): 481-505.

Book Chapters

"Original Copies: The Writing Hand in the World of Print," in Edinburgh Companion to Nineteenth-Century American Letters and Letter-Writing. ed. Matthew Peters, Celeste­ Marie Bernier, and Judie Newman  (Edinburgh UP, in progress).

"Reevaluating Press Freedom in Colonial America." Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature. 22 (2006). ed. Brook Thomas. 73-96.

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